Whistling Past the Graveyard

Whistling Past the Graveyard

by Susan Crandall
4.4 69

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Whistling Past the Graveyard 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
Oh my gosh…just, wow. This book was way better than I expected it would be. If you’ve read and enjoyed Kathryn Stockett’s The Help or Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home, you definitely want to read this gem. It starts off a little slow but picks up speed once Starla runs away from home and meets Eula, who stole a white baby. From there on out the story takes one unexpected turn after another. The only similarities between The Help and this heartrending novel are the era in which the story plays out, it being in Mississippi, and racial barriers and tension between colored and white people. Everything else is completely new and focuses on the developing love and friendship between Eula, an abused colored woman who longs to have children of her own, and an almost-ten-year-old white girl, Starla, who longs for her mother and father to be together so she can have a family of her own. “Here’s the thing ‘bout gif’s.” Eula stopped buttering her toast and looked straight at me. “A body don’t know how many the good Lord tucked inside them until the time is right. I reckon a person could go a whole life and not know. That why you gotta try lots of things, many as you can…experiment.” The inseparable bonds and relationship that develops between Eula and Starla is the stuff compelling novels that leaves a hole in your heart are made of. It was so easy to relate to both these characters in different ways, and served as an eye-opener of what life must’ve been like in the 1960s. Both Eula and Starla are endearing characters and by the time I got to the last page, I knew I would be thinking about these two exceptional women for a long time. Both of them learned something from the other about life, love, sacrifices, friendship, hope and forgiveness. It’s an unforgettable journey the reader takes alongside them, but be warned, it’s one that will move you deeply. I laughed with them, I cried with them and there were many times I feared for their safety. What got to me most, though, were how they were treated by some folks, and that served as a reminder that prejudice isn’t limited to color only. The author sketches 1963 Mississippi realistically, not withholding any of the unpleasant happenings of that time. It’s a story that showcases both sides of human nature and reiterates that despite the color of our skin, we all have the same needs and desires. Everyone wants to be loved, right? The ending was lovely and I was wholly satisfied with how things turned out for both these magnificently smart, strong, but oftentimes vulnerable, characters. At the heart of it, Whistling Past the Graveyard is testament to how we define ourselves in different settings and how love – be it from friendship, family or something more intimate - can cross any boundary.  This is a highly satisfying read which I believe will find a front row seat on many bookshelves. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book cost $4.99. It has 270 pages and was very well edited. An almost ten year old girl was the main character in this book set in the deep south in 1963. I did not know what to expect when I purchased this book. The reviews seemed to be either love it or hate it, with no middle road. I was looking for something different to read and this general fiction book appeared interesting, so I took a chance. I am very glad I did as I think this is one of the better books I have read in a long time. Not on a par with " To Kill a Mockingbird " by Harper Lee, nor as realistic as "The Help" it is still an absolutely, amazing book. Starla at times, was the perfect imbodiment of an almost ten year old and at other times, she was like an experienced, educated, grown up, woman of the world. This is my only complaint about this book. I was 8 years old in 1963 and I remember all the events in this book and how life was during the civil rights era. I lived in Little Rock, Arkansas at the time and segragation will always be a blight on American history. It was a scary time. This book made me rember how things used to be, I laughed, cried and got knots in my stomach. There was love, tenderness, suspense and the good and bad in people was perfectly described. This book had a lot of violence, a murder, kidnapping, child, spousal and animal abuse, rape, out of wedlock children, prejudices against African Americans, no romance, no cursing and human cruelty. I really enjoyed this book and think all young people ages 14 and up should read this book. I will read more by this author. I archived this one. This is not a mystery, suspense, thriller or chick lit. It is just about the perfect read though. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great entertainment. Well written, funny, sad, endearing and if you lived during that time in the South, real!
SuperLibrarianBlog More than 1 year ago
I was first drawn to this book by its gorgeous cover art, and then I noticed the author's name. Susan Crandall is a local author whose work I have enjoyed (Seeing Red was my first foray into romantic suspense, and I thoroughly enjoyed it). Whistling Past the Graveyard appealed to me because I love coming of age stories set in the south, especially during the Civil Rights era.  Starla's voice was strong and authentic, and the dialect fit well with the setting and time period. (I had to smile at all the humorous figures of speech as they reminded me of things my mom says: nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, madder than a hornet, etc.). I loved watching Starla grow as a character and learn difficult lessons about life, love, and family. And Eula's story was heartbreaking yet ultimately inspiring. The plot was fast-moving, and full of suspenseful twists and turns. I wasn't quite sure how the characters were going to get themselves out of the messes they were in, but I thought the ending was perfect. I recommend Whistling Past the Graveyard to fans of southern stories like The Secret Life of Bees, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and The Help.
babsromney More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! It really makes you think about what constitutes a mother and how we all need family. I loved the way this book dispels racial prejudice. I highly recommend this book.
MrsC34 More than 1 year ago
You will fall in love with the characters as they are introduced. I was looking for an easy light read and I loved this book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are you kidding with any review below 5 stars? I agree with the person who said "Bartender's review top shelf!" This is a gem, a diamond. I don't know what could be better written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my new all time favorites. It takes enormous talent to strike a balance between gritty realism and frank, childlike humor and perspective. Susan achieves that balance perfectly with this wonderful story I hated to see end. The characters will stay with me forever. Just loved it!!!!!!!!
jewelknits More than 1 year ago
Where to start? First off, be prepared for a rave; I thought this one was FABulous! A quick note: This one has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help. While it WAS great, I can definitely say that it seems lighter than those two books - not as complex or layered, but it DOES address many of the same issues in the voice of Starla, a precocious, sassy 9 1/2-year-old (remember, that 1/2 really matters at that age). First lines: My grandmother said she prays for me every day. Which was funny, because I'd only ever hard Mamie pray, "Dear Lord, give me strength." That sure sounded like a prayer for herself - and Mrs. Knopp in Sunday school always said our prayers should only ask for things for others. Once I made the mistake of saying that out loud to Mamie and got slapped into next Tuesday for my sassy mouth. It is 1963 in Cayuga Springs, Mississippi. Starla is being raised by her maternal grandmother "Mamie", who is 45 years old and seems to resent having her around. Mamie's biggest fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother Lulu, who has been in Nashville, working on a recording career, since Starla was three years old. Her father works further down South on an oil rig, so Starla only sees him sporadically. When Starla sticks up for a girl she doesn't even really like, she finds herself in trouble AGAIN .. grounded ... on one of the best days of the year - the Fourth of July. When she sneaks out anyway, she runs into a nosy neighbor and things get worse from there. Starla takes it into her head to run away and find her mother in Nashville. Her mom will be so happy to see her that she'll let her stay, and her daddy will come join them, and they will be a family again. So she starts walking ... and walking .. and walking .. until she is picked up by a black woman named Eula who, strangely, has a white baby with her. Thus begins Starla's journey into a world that she didn't know existed. On her journey, she finds herself and others in dangerous situations, discovers the true meaning of family and friendship, and begins to glean an understanding of civil rights and the effect of segregation. Never having experienced true poverty, she is astonished to find that not everyone has electricity and running water, and as she discovers Eula's history, she begins to get an idea of true injustice. Starla's voice is utterly believable. Like any child her age, things are pretty much black and white (until they're not). As you travel with her, be prepared for the good and the bad, for laughter and tears, for heart-stopping situations as well as heart-warming ones. This sassy little protagonist will convince you of the truths of her story - you should definitely go along for the ride with her. QUOTES: Everybody in Cayuga Springs treated my momma like a secret. But it seemed like I was the only person they wanted to keep the secret from. Sometimes when Mamie had bridge club in the summer, I'd sit below the living-room window outside and listen. The ladies had plenty to say about Momma, all right. Hateful things. Lies. They squeezed them in between their bids and trumps, like it was part of the game. That kind of crazy liked to hide behind a mask and you never knew when it was gonna come out. "Oh, child, the law wouldn't do nothin'. A white man can do pretty much whatever he wants to a colored woman and a little girl - even if the little girl is white. It the way things are round here." Once when I was in first grade, Patti Lynn and me was talking to each other across the aisle just by movin' our lips, not even makin' a whisper. Mrs. Kessler heard our lips movin'. She made us both stand at the front of the class until recess. Teacher hearing was as good as Superman's. BLOGGERS: Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review. Writing: 5 out of 5 stars Plot: 5 out of 5 stars Characters: 5 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 stars Sensitive Reader: No real worries. There are some ticklish spots - domestic violence is depicted, and some situations have sensitive overtones. Book Club Recommendation: Definitely yes! What fun! I can see the discussions now!
Flutey_Cutie More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The characters the author created were amazing. She took their personalities and histories and wove them into perfect novel. It gripped me from the first page to the last with deep emotions. Wow!
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
What a great book. I loved it. It is one of the greatest books I have read. Kudos to the author. It was just as good as the great book, The Help. This is a must read for everyone
MrsO More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down and finished it in less than a day.  Wonderful from beginning to end.  I plan to read all of this author's books and hope they are all as eye opening, suspenseful, heart warming and just all around enjoyable.  I am anxious to recommend this book to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book much more than i anticipated I would. A charming story through the eyes of a child skirting through very difficult issues from that era, the author brings you in and makes you a very real part of Starla's journey. I now have to search for other books by this author in hopes that her other books are just as captivating!
Angie_Lisle More than 1 year ago
Full of southern charm - the prose is delightful for those who enjoy Southern dialect. Just like the southern phrase 'bless your heart' is often an expression of pity at someone's idiocy, this story presents some shady subjects wrapped up in a light, almost playful, prose. None of the characters felt stable to me; I questioned the sincerity of their transformations through the whole story. At the same time, this is an element that made the characters realistic as they bumbled from one conflict to the next. Starla's relationship with her grandmother, Mamie, isn't fully resolved at the end of the story. A good book is supposed to leave the reader imagining what-happens-next but, in this case, the story doesn't feel complete to me. I received a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review and I have no idea if a sequel is planned - but I want one. I want to know where all the characters wind up a few years down the road.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best I have read in a while! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just a good coming of age story in the turbulent South of the 1960s.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. It was well written and the story was amazing. I am hoping to read more by this author just because I enjoyed this book so much.
TrainReaderMK More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. Didn't want it to end. The characters were all so amazing.
MsErlybird More than 1 year ago
Delightful! If you like "To Kill a Mockingbird" you will really enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book could not put it down, if you liked The Help you will love this one. Charactors are real and well developed. The story line catches you and does not let go. I give it 5 stars and my personel rating What A Book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Endearing characters and great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all, I NEVER write reviews; however, I just wanted to say a word or two about this book. I have not finished it yet, but I highly recommend it. So far it's had my heart racing in a part I was not expecting and "itching" to turn the page to see what happens next. Two thumbs up! (I gave it four stars instead of five since I haven't finished it yet)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! It was much better than I thought it would be. It's a little slow at first, but it picks up and then you can't put it down. 
kbelle More than 1 year ago
"Whistling Past The Graveyard" was a delightful book that I couldn't wait to get back to and was saddened when it finally ended as I wanted to stay with the characters long after the final sentence was read. The subject matter is quite somber and infuriating in the same manner as "The Help" was infuriating due to the injustice and prejudice experienced in the South in the 1960s, but the characters truly come alive and make it a fantastic book. I would highly recommend this novel to book clubs as well as individuals. You'll fall in love with Starla's spunk and mettle. She is without a doubt truly wise well beyond her age!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me laugh and cry. I found myself identifying with both Starla and Eula. Please read this book you will enjoy it.